Biden taps former Mastercard executive Banga to lead World Bank

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has decided to nominate Ajay Banga, a former CEO of MasterCard, to lead the World Bank

In a statement, Biden said that Banga will be able to use his three decades’ experience in managing global companies to lead the bank “at this critical moment in history.”

The Biden administration is moving swiftly to fill the top spot at the international financial institution. It was little more than a week ago that David Malpass, the current, Donald Trump–nominated World Bank president, announced he was stepping down.

Washington Watch (September 2022): Embattled World Bank head Malpass says he should have made it clear that he’s not ‘a climate-change denier’

Under a much-criticized and opaque tradition, the White House selects the head of the World Bank. In return, European nations are given the responsibility to select the head of the International Monetary Fund, a sister institution.

The formal process is not over with today’s announcement. The World Bank’s board of directors will need to officially appoint Banga. That process could last until May.

In a separate statement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted that Banga “has led a global organization with nearly 20,000 employees, advocated for diversity and inclusion, and delivered results. His efforts have helped bring 500 million unbanked people into the digital economy, deploy private capital into climate solutions, and expand economic opportunity through the Partnership for Central America.”

This experience will help him achieve the World Bank’s objective of eliminating extreme poverty and expanding shared prosperity, she said.

Banga “understands that those core objectives are deeply intertwined with challenges like meeting ambitious goals for climate adaptation and emissions reduction, preparing for and preventing future pandemics, and mitigating the root causes and consequences of conflict and fragility,” she added.

In an op-ed in the Financial Times on Tuesday. Afsaneh Beschloss, the chief executive of RockCreek, a global investment firm and a former World Bank official, said whoever succeeds Malpass “will do much to decide whether this fabled institution ultimately perishes or survives.

The World Bank has of late been coasting toward oblivion amid threats from climate change, the war in Ukraine and crippling debt crises in low-income countries, Beschloss said.